Giving Dignity

“In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭12:22-26‬ ‭NLT‬‬
In a recent meeting, Mark Khouri, Gift-In-Kind Director with Food For The Poor, shared that the quality of our donations have a direct correlation to the recipients dignity.  Dignity is defined as “the quality of being worthy of respect or esteem.”  Essentially, the better our aid, the more dignity we affirm.
Being efficient and effective is critical when repurposing product that seemingly has served its usefulness.  It’s estimated that over 60% of all humanitarian shipments end up in landfills because bad quality or could not be used for humanitarian efforts. (Rising To The Challenge:  My Leadership Journey, Carly Fiorina, page 18, Penguin, 2015)
Marvin J. Ashton writes, “Give with wisdom that they may receive with dignity.”  What we give is just as critical as why we give.  Gifts given in grace honor the humble.  When we give out of our trash, we subvert dignity . . . when we give from our treasure, we support dignity.
Nearly 2,000 years ago, a teacher and Apostle wrote to a newly established church in Corinth, a leading Mediterranean city.  Paul understood that the needy were near to the heart of God.  The impoverished required care and honor. Yet, in ancient Greece, there were “seen as a problem and burden to the wealthy.” (Victorian Ryan, Poverty Studies, University of Norte Dame University, 2015)
Poverty is a real issue.  It’s local, national and global.  It was in our past, it is in our present and it will be in our future. The destitute need us . . . and we need the destitute.
Paul gives us insight on how to help, how to honor and how to live in harmony.
Help for Despairing.  The Apostle writes, “In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.  And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care.”  Our contributions to those in need are for their necessity . . . not our need.  Those who have experienced the greatest loss need the most love.  The disciple whom Jesus writes, “Whoever has earthly possessions and notices a brother in need and yet withholds his compassion from him, how can the love of God be present in him?” (I John 3:17 ISV)
Honor in Caring.  Paul explains. “So we carefully protect those parts that are [should not] be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care.  So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity.”  The poor will always be among us (John 12:8).  They are not invisible, yet they are ignored.  Too often, we give “special care” to those who have too much recognition.  The real recipients of “extra honor and care” are those that experience less dignity.  Dignity should be embraced, not erased.  Dignity should be developed, not dismissed.  Solomon tells us, “He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker, But he who is gracious to the needy honors Him.” (Proverbs 14:31)
Harmony of Sharing.  Helping others leads to harmony with others.  Our compassion builds a bridge instead of a brick wall.  We are instructed, “This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.”  Our caring becomes our credibility, our tenderness becomes our theology and our unity becomes our ultimacy.
As we give from our fortune to those who are less fortunate . . . give out of riches, not rubbish . . . give something of worth, not something that is worthless . . . and give out of sacrifice, not from scraps.  “Give with wisdom that they may receive dignity” and we all will be better off.

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